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Freedom of Association: Study Questions

Suggested Review Questions and Activities

Teachers: The following are questions and activities that can be given to your students after they read the materials in each section. The questions are meant to be asked as a review exercise, although some encourage critical thinking as well. The activities can be presented as classroom exercises or as individual homework assignments. Unlike the questions, they tend to require additional research. Some call for students to create mock trials or debates that would engage the entire class. Both the questions and the activities are formatted so that they might be used directly by students, although you may rewrite them as you feel necessary.

Essential Principles

Questions

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that in democratic countries, "The art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased." What does Tocqueville mean by this comment? (See book II, chapter 12, in Tocqueville's Democracy in America.)

What other forms of free association can you think of? Do you think religious groups or extremist groups should be free to associate? What about groups that you consider to be offensive? Why or why not?

Activity

How does the U.S. record on protecting freedom of association compare with those of other major industrialized democracies in the last five years? In the last 20 years? Why do you think this is the case? Search through the news to find examples of protests, strikes, and demonstrations that support your findings.

Chile

Question

What role did freedom of association play in the history of democracy in Chile? How did citizens' and workers' associations act to bring democracy back to Chile in 1988–90?

Activity

Do some additional research to discover how unions and other forms of association have developed since 1990. Has the freedom of association situation improved or worsened? What events have had an impact on freedom of association? How have workers and others responded?

Jordan

Question

In most countries, trade unions play a strong role in promoting democracy. What is the political role of trade unions in Jordan?

Activity

The U.S.-Jordan trade agreement is often justified by arguing that Jordanian workers will benefit from increased production and trade. The AFL-CIO has sought to use provisions in the trade agreement to assist Jordanian workers. Has it succeeded? How have Jordanian workers fared? Use news articles to support your findings.

China

Question

How has the People's Republic of China suppressed freedom of association and the development of free trade unions?

Activity

Use the internet to find news articles and blog posts related to freedom of association in China during the period leading up to the 2008 Olympics and during the games themselves. China had promised to allow demonstrations during this period. What were the conditions under which China won the right to host the Olympic Games? Did the government meet those conditions? Were there demonstrations and protests?